This is life. This is being in the world. This is belonging, and being a part of living, growing existence.
Then, out of the blue, just as you're crossing the threshold of being considered old, something goes wrong with your body. You can no longer walk or take care of yourself. You're moved into a nursing home. It's not really a home. It's just a place to stay. Forever. All those things you collected around you that made you happy have to go because there's no room for them. All your wonderful books, most of them autographed, are going elsewhere. Your comfortable chair, your blonde knotty pine bedroom furniture with the pastel flowers etched into the wood, now belongs to somebody else. Your dishes, your expensive Le Crueset pots and pans that you discovered on sale in the back of Sam's Warehouse at the astounding bargain price of $50 that you cooked meal after meal in, always with joy, now gone. Who knows where.
That was years ago. You can barely remember them anymore. Now you live in a nursing home in half a room, al the end of a hall, behind a curtain. You have a wheelchair that someone has to push you around in, like a baby. But when you ask to get up in it so you can sit outside to enjoy the rare temperate weather, you're told they don't have time. Worse, sometimes they say they'll do it, but they just never seem to get around to it.
Most of your friends live in a town 70 miles away. You've been away going on five years now. You've faded from their memories. It's human nature. Out of sight, out of mind. Being stuck in bed, there's no opportunity to make friends. There's one nurse who's very sweet and caring. She helps ease the loneliness. And there's one friend who visits loyally as often as he can. Without his friendship, you feel like you'd just wither away from the isolation.
You thought you'd made friends with a new aide. But you were wrong. Without explanation, he started ignoring you, acting like you don't exist. You don't understand. It hurts. A lot. You can think of a hundred possible reasons this is happening, and all of them must be your fault. But what? This has happened to you before, when someone you thought cared suddenly turned his back on you without explanation. That time it was someone you trusted implicitly. That time it hurt so much you didn't think you could live with that much pain and felt the best thing for everybody would be if you just didn't exist anymore. That was nearly 10 years ago. You still don't understand what you did wrong and it still hurts.
So right now, you're reminded so much of that terrible time that you wake up crying every day. It doesn't matter if you're friends with the aide. You'll work your way through the confusion and pain eventually.
But you've realized something from this experience. You are no longer an active part of this world. You've passed the point where you can make new friends. You're an old woman who lives in a nursing home, subject to all of society's stereotypes, prejudices, and assumptions. You're not a person, not a part of society anymore. You're a shadow, devoid of personality or substance. When you talk, people don't hear you. When aides take care of you, you're not a person, you're just some generic body they get paid to take care of.
You're not alive to them. You're a shadow. So it's little wonder the aide you thought of as a friend is treating you like you don't exist. It's because, to him, you don't.
I love you all. How could I not? I just have never been able to hang onto anger or hate. Yes, I do get angry, but simply can't maintain it, unless it's towards myself. I'm working on that, but it's not an easy habit to break. Love yourselves with all your hearts, wonderful peeps. You have no idea how magnificent your spirits truly are. You shine.